Wichita voters, scared by a squadron of know-nothings, voted against adding fluoride to the city’s drinking water last week.
Dr. Larry Hurd, a pediatrician who was one of the leading advocates of bringing Wichita into the modern world, explained what happened:
“It’s easier to scare people than to teach them about the science involved.”
Iola has fought tooth decay in children and adults by adding fluoride to the city’s treated water for decades. The science is settled. When drinking water has the tiny amount of fluoride in it required to harden tooth enamel, the decay rate drops dramatically. Children have a smaller number of cavities than their cohorts in cities that do not fluoridate. The compound helps children the most because it hardens the enamel while it is forming.
Those who live in communities where the water is fluoridated naturally show the same benefit — and it was from that discovery that artificial fluoridation was initiated.
Dental experts worldwide advocate fluoridation. Many toothpastes include the compound. There is, in short, no scientific evidence against it and volumes of documented proof of its effectiveness.
SO WHY did Wichitans vote, 60 to 40, against the efficacious step? Because a bunch of anti-science types filled the Internet and voter mailboxes with lies. Fluoride, they said, is a poison. Well, yes, take enough of it and it will kill you. So will salt. So will water. The fact is that there is absolutely no evidence that drinking fluoridated water has ever caused a human illness or injury.
To compound the damage done, Mark Gietzen, president of the Kansas Republican Assembly, promises that anti-fluoride forces plan to “take this effort statewide; we’re not going to quit,” he said.
More than that, Gietzen says he will go national. He is, he said, connected with the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. “I’m going to try to make fluoride one of our core issues,” he said.
That prospect has its bright side. Maybe coming out against established science that benefits children the most will help bury that pernicious movement.
— Emerson Lynn, jr.